Badgers fall to Lancers in home opener

Photo Credit: Mackenzie Gerry

Photo Credit: Mackenzie Gerry

The Badgers had no shortage of scoring chances in their game against the Windsor Lancers, but their inability to do anything constructive with those chances ultimately cost them the game.

This was defender Connor Walters’ first game as the newly appointed captain of the team, and for better or for worse, it’s one that he’ll remember. Walters didn’t put up any points of his own but his responsible presence at the blue line was felt. He demonstrated leadership on the ice, particularly when both teams got into penalty trouble. Naming Walters captain was an easy decision for the coaching staff.

“He exudes leadership, he’s one of those guys that everybody likes, he’s got a passion for the game, and besides that he’s one heck of a defenceman,” said head coach Marty Williamson.

Windsor forward Alex Friesen scored his first OUA goal to put the Lancers on the board with five minutes remaining in the first, the Badgers struck back less than a minute later when Mitchell Mendonca crashed the net for his first goal of the season.

The Badgers did not score for the next 30 minutes of play. The second period was particularly abysmal for Brock, even though they outshot the Lancers 24-12, they failed to execute. The Badgers allowed three goals, the last of which came on a short-handed breakaway for Windsor. The Badgers had numerous power play opportunities, including a five on three advantage that could have been the perfect chance for them to get back in the game. The minutes ticked away and the Badgers ended the second period trailing 4-1.

The tension was high between the teams as they left the ice, a handful of players had to be separated by officials as they headed back to their dressing rooms. Frustrations mounted on both sides after numerous penalties were handed out in the first two periods.

Windsor began the third period by extending their lead 5-1, Brock quickly answered back with a goal of their own from Johnny Schaefer. Schaefer’s goal could have signified a turning point for the Badgers had the game not been interrupted. There was some pushing, shoving and choice words thrown at the officials before a Windsor player was ejected from the game.

Williamson acknowledged that, between whistles, the game is meant to be tough, the hits are hard and the players have to fight for every point, but it’s the reckless penalties that he took issue with.

“The stuff after the whistles, you just don’t need that,” he said.

Giving up a penalty, after all, is essentially handing the other team a scoring chance.

The altercation took away from the momentum that Schaefer’s goal built and Brock found themselves back where they started, able to create scoring chances, but unable to actually score.

Adam Berg’s final Badgers goal was too little, too late. Brock pulled their goalie, trying to force a miracle, but an empty net goal for Windsor was the final nail in the coffin.

It was a bad game, but the Badgers are not a bad team, they have all the ingredients for success, but they can’t seem to find the right recipe.

The Badgers had more shots than Windsor and they spent more time on the power play. Simply put, they had more chances to win the game than the Lancers, yet they didn’t use them.

If you ask Williamson, the difference maker in this game was the power play, Windsor executed, and Brock did not.

There’s no use dwelling on this game, it’s clear that the Badgers have the time and the potential to become the team that they know they can be.

“We’re not a team that loses by five or six goals,” said Williamson.

The Badgers hit the road on Saturday and Sunday to play two NCAA exhibition games, the first against RPI and the second against Quinnipiac. The Badgers lost the first game 6-3 but tied the game at Quinnipiac 4-4. When the Badgers are able to focus and play a full hockey game free of needless mistakes and penalties they are able to put up a solid fight against any opponent.

The only problem is that they haven’t been able to string together consistent performances. They led early in the game against the Quinnipiac Bobcats, but allowed them to score two goals in the third, tying up the game. It wasn’t the best look for the Badgers as one of Quinnipiac’s third period goals ended up on the 11:00 p.m. SportsCenter highlights. Brock looked lost on the ice and goaltender Jacob Hutchings was left helpless against the Bobcats’ forwards. It’s not the full picture but it’s certainly a window into the Badgers early season shortcomings.

Williamson still expects the team to peak in January — but it will certainly be worth watching to see if they can become the team that they have the potential to be.

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